Roman Shields

Published: November 4th, 2020     
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Roman Shields
Author: M.C. Bishop
Reviewed by: Gino Dykstra - IPMS# 11198
ISBN #: 978-1-4728-3962-6
Other Publication Information: Softback
Price: $20.00
Product / Stock #: Elite 234
Product provided by: Osprey Publishing

Silly me. When I saw the title of this book, I thought it was simply going to be a compilation of various shield motifs I could use in my figure modeling. Instead, this publication opened a world of fascinating information on the development, manufacture and use of this most Roman of military items - the scutum or shield. Use of the large, rectangular shield had a large part in dictating Roman tactics, as it permitted the Legionnaire to move in tight formations, well-protected by his fellow soldiers and his own shield - something few other ancient armies were capable of.

How this definitive device came to be is an intriguing story in its own right - centuries of development and trial and experimentation (presumably) along with the development and use of other forms of shields for other types of troops. This book delves into surviving records, artifacts, and art to sift out the facts in a thorough and scholarly fashion. Every possible research source seems to have been utilized to help the reader understand the process and creation of these defensive (AND offensive) devices.

To enhance the research, numerous well-done illustrations are provided which examine the manufacture, use and deployment of these shields, as well as cutaways to demonstrate the meticulous manner in which these shields were fashioned. Until reading this book, I had no idea of the complexity and thought that went into these relatively simple tools. For instance, the average shield was not simply composed of a sheet of wood, but of layers of thin wooden strips glued together in opposing directions to prevent splitting in combat. Once again, fascinating!

All in all, this is a very well-researched book which delves in depth into a relatively obscure aspect of ancient life, but one on which innumerable warrior's lives depended. It is full of useful information as well as interesting ideas for painting and dioramas for the modeler. I recommend it without reserve. I think you will too.

My thanks to Osprey Publishing for continuing to release such interesting subjects, and to IPMS/USA for a chance to read it and expand my knowledge base a bit. Stay safe, everyone, and happy modeling!

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